Mid-Season Survey Response, Spring 2014


Purchasing, Beets and Onions, and the Trade Box

Thank you so much to all of those who filled out our mid-season survey! We spend a lot of time going through the responses as a team, and it is always a great opportunity for us to learn, and also to brainstorm how to make things better. We came up with a list of some of the primary questions and concerns that you brought up in your survey responses that we wanted to address. These points include general confusion about our purchasing process, wanting fewer beets, wanting onions, and a lot of very mixed feedback about the Trade Box trial this season. Please click READ MORE below to read our responses. We hope they answer your questions!

Thanks so much for being a part of this season! If you still have any questions about the following points or anything else, please don't hesitate to talk to a coordinator at Market Day, or email us at info@brownmarketshares.com.

-The BMSP Coordinating Team
Katie, Meg, Anna, Jenna, Antonia, Julie, and Taylor

How does purchasing work, and why are there so many beets?

Every week, our purchasing coordinator Katie will contact farmers asking what they have available. They reply to her with a list of what they have in the quantities we need (we have almost 300 shareholders!), and from these lists, she tries to put together a balanced, diverse share. During the summer season, there are an overwhelming number of items to choose from, and the challenge lies in putting together a share that provides both summer treats and hearty staples. In the winter, however, the challenge becomes how to put together an exciting share when there are only the hearty staples, ie the root vegetables we have come to know intimately this season. The reason that some items appear in the share a lot is these are some of the only items our farmers have right now. We have been working to integrate more greens in the share, and have been excited to offer the first cooking greens of the season! As the weather warms and fields thaw, we will be getting a more diverse array of items. This is one of the aspects we think is most unique about eating from a share- watching your plate change with the weather.

One item that elicited a surprisingly diverse range of responses was the beet. Although listed as a favorite for around one third of survey responses, we also read many comments asking for some respite. You may have noticed its absence the past couple weeks, but we bring up this example to point to one of the other challenges of putting together a balanced share- people like different things. We hope that it balances out in terms of preferences, but in the meantime, we highly encourage you to check out our blog for recipe ideas and preparation tips for those items which, due to seasonal necessity, become almost weekly staples (who knows, maybe you love pickled beets after all!) We are also going to increase signage at market day related to storage and preparation tips.

Where are all the onions?

In past winter seasons, we have been able to get garlic, onions, or shallots almost every week. Due to wet conditions at the time of harvest last fall, however, very few members of the allium family were able to be stored. None of the farmers we work with have these items available, although towards the end of the season we should be getting newly grown and harvested onions! The shares so far have reflected the actual availability of produce right now, and there are very few items that are grown sustainably in Rhode Island that we have not featured in the share.

The Trade Box

We were especially curious about reactions to not having a trade box this season. The responses varied, some grateful for the push to actually try all items, and some urging us to bring it back. We have decided to maintain our no trade box policy for the rest of the season. Many comments in favor of the trade box focused on the benefits of being able to trade out unwanted items. Our concern is that the trade box fails to equitably address this issue. Our experience of past seasons has been that it only allows a full array of choices to those who arrive at the trade box immediately after it has been restocked. However, we highly encourage shareholders to talk to one another at market day and work out informal trades! (We have witnessed some very fortuitous meetings of beet lovers and those who view beets with disdain). We do want to encourage those with severe allergies to come talk to a coordinator, and we can work out alternatives for weeks when we order those items.


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